A Guide to Alternative Wedding Ceremonies
Morning all, I hope you’re well and also, Happy Hump Day! I’m nipping over to have a good old chat about non-conventional ceremonies and more specifically those that aren’t actually legal, in the eyes of the law anyway!
There may be a variety of reasons why you choose to make your wedding vows in this way; you may want nuptials to take place in an unlicensed setting, or perhaps, you’d like a special family member to perform the union. You may be planning a Humanist wedding in an area outside of Scotland or your religious ceremony may not be recognised by British law.
I’m by no means an expert but as a team, we thought it might be useful to put together this post to help any of you lovely ladies planning something similar. However, for advice and inspiration you will be sure to find plenty experts and friendly faces over in #WeddingHour on Twitter. And, you too can join in the pretty conversation from 9-10pm, just make sure that #weddinghour is included in each of your tweets.
Once you have decided on a date and time, you need to do the following:
Unless you have chosen a friend or relation to conduct the ceremony, contact the British Humanist Association (BHA) to find someone to act as a celebrant or simply, just have a read of their website for more information.
I suppose one of the first obstacles you may encounter in wedding planning is when you will register your marriage. Many people choose to do it the day before their ceremony, or even the day of; this will save you from purchasing two dresses, having two lots of hair and make-up and deciding upon a guest list, etc etc.
Conducting a small, yet perfectly formed ceremony prior to the blessing could be even just an exchange of a few formal words, you don’t even have to exchange rings or vows. You could even opt to do the legal paperwork after your ceremony, if logistics aren’t in your favour.
Luckily for you, most venues allow humanist, religious and non-religious ceremonies. Be sure to find one where the team will work tirelessly to help with your wedding planning and suggest ideas for your ceremonies/ceremony. If your venue suggests that you can hold two ceremonies on the same day; one private civil ceremony with just a witnesses or two, then perfect!
Also, if you’re wanting to follow up with a special ritual or blessing, check to see if the venue are OK with this and if there are any limitations. For example, you could follow your ceremony with a candlelit ‘blessing’ several hours later surrounded by your friends and family. Or, if you’re getting hitched in the country side and are a nature lover, you could plant a tree to symbolise your marriage.
Decide on the type of service you’d like and what you would like to say. The job of the celebrant is to help you create a ceremony that’s completely personal to you. They will help you explore your feelings towards one another and express this in words. You can write the entire service yourself to reflect the important aspects of your relationship or, with help and advice from your celebrant, you can adapt one of the ceremonies they can suggest to you. They also have suggestions for readings and music.
Feel free to research online, adapt vows from other ceremonies and make this unique and special to you. It’s your ceremony and wedding, after all.
On The Day…
As there are no legal formalities you have to abide by, the structure of the day is entirely up to you. This will, to some extent, have been rehearsed beforehand with the wedding party, so that the main participants know the procedure, their positions and when and where to move.
The ceremony has no set structure. At some point, the couple will make promises to each other and although they have no legal standing, their words will bind them together in love.
A number of couples like to reflect on and celebrate their relationship before they make their promises. The majority of ceremonies will include special readings and music, usually chosen for sentimental and personal reasons.
The most important thing to remember is that the ceremony is about a public declaration of your love and commitment to each other.
A Little Piece of Advice
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. It’s your big day and you should have it your way. If you have a bright idea then don’t be afraid to ask!
I would really love to hear about the plans you all have for you ceremonies. Is anyone intending on incorporating a non-traditional ceremony into their wedding celebrations? Where are you planning to say your vows and who will be leading your marriage?
Also, don’t forget to join #weddinghour from 9-10pm, lovelies! x